The Wolverine’s (Er, Possible?) Demise

So the verdict may or may not be in: wolverines are potentially at risk due to climate change.

Going somewhere, bub?

According to National Geographic, researchers up at the National Center for Atmospheric Research ran several simulations examining how North American snow cover may look in the future with varying levels of carbon dioxide. Most scenarios produced warmer summers and fewer spring snows, which, they conclude, could be detrimental to the deceptively cuddly-looking wolverine, who makes dens in the snowpack as shelter for newborn kits.

Okay, there are a few suspect details [ex: The wolverine's range spans most of Canada (home to more than 15,000 individuals) and part of the mountainous Northwest U.S. (home to a few dozen to a few hundred), but the study presents its findings on changes in snow cover in the mainland U.S. alone].  But what the NG article really manages to say is that if you’re concerned for the future of the (mainland U.S.) wolverine, you might not have to be. Everything from the title, “Wolverine to Vanish From U.S. Due to Warming?”, to the content oozes with uncertainty. Sadly, even the only bolded subtitle in this article, “Wolverines to Retreat as Snow Melts?”, ends with a question mark. Or maybe I’ll just leave it to the study leader, who said it best,

Although it’s unclear exactly how wolverines would respond to such changes, the new simulations suggest that the very low numbers of wolverines currently living in the contiguous U.S. would likely decline further in response to habitat deterioration…

If you’re going to present yet another damsel in distress, I beg you to add a dash of confidence or fervor to it. Already this article is treading a gray area of helpfulness; it could be the story of another identifiable victim of climate change, one that our collective sympathies can unite behind enough to light a fire under our rears. Or perhaps, as more and more species get added to the hitlist, we become increasingly in danger of suffering from the scope-severity paradox: climate change is apparently claiming so many victims that our sense of its severity has been dulled; or one death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic (c/o not-Stalin).

So please, World, pick the tearjerkers well. The last thing you want to do is beat a dead horse. (Or, you know, anything else for that matter…)

Lucy Chang

About Lucy Chang

Lucy hails from the Mighty Midwest, home to sexy meteorological events like pneumonia fronts and thundersnow. Having narrowly made her escape, she now resides on the fifth floor of UC Berkeley's Integrative Biology building, passing her days with thoughts of rocks and the records of ancient life preserved in them.
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One Response to The Wolverine’s (Er, Possible?) Demise

  1. Judy Scotchmoor says:

    A clear strong message for your reader – good job!

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